Whether it’s a winter wonderland or a dreary brown landscape, getting out for a walk in Halifax is a great way to get some exercise even in the depths of winter. There are lots of places to walk in the city, but here are a few that fit my winter walking criteria: they’re reasonably maintained, they’re close to a place where you can get warm and dry, and they have a unique beauty in winter. Some of these parks and trails may be your regular summer and fall haunts, and some might be new discoveries; both are a great choice for a winter afternoon walk.
The BLT Trail
The Beechvile-Lakeside-Timberlea Trail is a year-round favourite. While biking might be a bit tricky once the snow falls, you can always bring your snowshoes instead. With flat terrain that crosses through several communities on its way, the BLT Trail is a great choice for a winter wander. You’ve got a choice of walking along a river, through the forest, or beside a lake.
There are several points of entry to the trail.
You may like:
Citadel Hill might not leap to mind for a walk—it’s a popular destination in winter for sure, but mostly for sledding. However, the cleared roadway and available sidewalks make it a decent place to get some hill into your walk. Walking the hill’s winding road gives you a great view of the city, some glimpses of the Citadel fort, and it’s only a stone’s throw from the rest of downtown, where there are plenty of places to get warm food and drinks. And if you don’t feel like walking down, just bring a sled with you!
Address: Citadel Hill
The Halifax Common is a familiar sight to most Haligonians, and wintertime is no different. Thanks to the Oval, there’s plenty of people out enjoying the Commons in even the worst winter weather, and there are lots of paths through the park if skating is not your thing. I’d suggest walking close to the Oval anyways—they tend to play music, which is fun, and there’s usually a Beavertails truck, which is even more fun! Bring a friend, a partner, or a four legged critter, and enjoy when green gives way to white on snowy days.
Address: 5816 Cogswell Street
Crystal Crescent Beach
I will campaign for the awesomeness that is winter beach walking for the rest of my life. You want to be careful of course, and don’t go swimming unless you’ve got all of the wetsuit and gear that you need. But beaches in wintertime show a beautiful meeting of ocean and land winter aesthetic. Crystal Crescent is my beach of choice because it’s close to the city, the boardwalk is established, and it’s a beautiful white sand beach, but you’re welcome to choose whichever beach appeals most to you.
Frog Pond is one of my favourite places for walking in the winter. Not only is the pond quite lovely in any winter weather, it’s also a great place to spot animals and birds. It’s also a short walk, about 1 km, so if it’s cold you can finish up quickly and then run for the safety of your vehicle. If you do feel like having a longer walk, you can always hook onto the Sir Sandford Trail that leads towards the Dingle Tower (see below).
The Great Trail
The Great Trail does go all the way to Vancouver, but I would not suggest doing that on snowshoes. It’s a great trail that leads all the way through the province, and it’s easy to get onto in Dartmouth. The trail is nice and wide, perfect for social distancing, and it’s flat enough that everyone can enjoy it. If it’s not too cold, maybe scout ahead—you might have found a good adventure for summertime.
There are two things you need to know about the Waterfront in the winter time: if it’s windy, don’t go too close to the water because you’re going to get splashed and if it’s been raining, watch your step, because it will be icy. As long as you look out for that, you’ll be perfectly fine. The Waterfront is several blocks long and there are a few places open even in the dead of winter along the way, so you can warm up easily at any stage on your adventure. It’s a great way to enjoy the ocean in winter without getting to the beach (which can be hard if you’re like me and don’t have a car).
Hemlock Ravine is another great destination if you don’t have a car, because you can just take a bus out to it.
There are four trails within the park, some of which are off-leash for dogs, and they’re all reasonably easy. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, you can hike through the ravine, but make sure that you have good sturdy boots for that.
In the winter you’ll be able to see the frozen (or mostly frozen) heart of Hemlock Ravine…and no, I’m not telling you what it means, it’s a surprise!
McIntosh Run Community Trail
If you want to explore more of Spryfield after your visit to Frog Pond, the McIntosh Run Community Trail isn’t too far away. Flat and 1.3 km long, it’s a great place to practice your snowshoeing in the snow, or just get a good run in on the crusher dust.
Maintained by volunteers, it’s a good choice to try out when you’re feeling the winter doldrums. Also, it goes by the river, some marshland, and ponds, so bring a McIntosh apple and enjoy the winter weather features.
Point Pleasant Park
The classic walking park in Halifax, Point Pleasant Park is an adventure whatever the weather. Set on a hill, there are trails of various levels of difficulty. There’s plenty to see around the park, including memorials, a tower, remnants of military forts, and a gazebo! You can choose between seaside and forest paths, and then head up to the convenience store to grab some snacks.
Address: 5718 Point Pleasant Drive
The Public Gardens has only been open during the winter for the last couple of years, so it’s a relatively new development. The Gardens hold an eerie Narnia-like beauty in the winter, with everything sleeping around you, flowers and plants alike. The paths are reasonably maintained, so you can wander the gardens at your leisure.
It’s also right at the corner of South Park Street and Spring Garden, so you’re only a few steps away from food, drink, and the library to warm up.
Address: Corner of South Park Street and Spring Garden Road
Sackville Lakes Park
Sackville’s lakes are beautiful, and Sackville Lakes Park allows you to enjoy First Lake and Second Lake. There are two trails, one linear and one a loop, one for each lake. There are look-off points and benches along both trails, so you can take a break and enjoy the scenery.
Bring a nice hot drink and a camera—you’ll spot several cool sights along the lakes.
Salt Marsh Trail
If you’re looking for a great place for winter birdwatching, you’ve got to check out the Salt Marsh Trail. It’s a wonderful place to walk all year round, especially because of the multitude of bird species that make their home along the trail throughout the year.
There are plenty of native bird species around through the winter and early spring, and a walk through the salt marsh is a unique winter experience that should not be missed.
Shubie Park is very like the Halifax Commons in that it’s a place of greenery and outdoor fun that’s surrounded by the city. The park has many trails to walk, and the open space means that you can take time to have a snowball fight, make snow angels, or just play tag. It’s a great place for families to take a walk, especially since there are lots of places nearby to warm up and get a treat. And if you enjoy the park in the winter, make sure to come back in the rest of the year to enjoy all the activities the park has to offer.
Address: 54 Locks Road, Dartmouth
Sir Sandford Fleming Park
Sir Sandford Fleming Park is close to Frog Pond (see above), but it’s a very different park. The grounds are maintained during the summer, there’s a playground beside the sea, and there are fewer trees. The trail through the park takes you past the Dingle Tower (unfortunately locked during the winter), and along the Northwest Arm. And if you want to mosey up to Frog Pond, the trails connect!
Address: Dingle Road, Halifax
By: Adrienne Colborne